“You cannot be healthy with an unhealthy mouth any more than one can be healthy with an infected foot,” says Richard H. Price, DMD, spokesperson for the American Dental Association (ADA) and a former clinical instructor at the Boston University Dental School.
Truer words were never spoken. The care you show your teeth and gums has an effect on the health of the rest of your body. Neglecting your mouth and lead to more than just a dull smile – it’s the gateway to a host of health problems including oral cancer, heart disease, bacterial pneumonia, stroke, and difficult pregnancies.
Oral Health: The Role of Diet and Lifestyle
The following factors are the heavy-hitters when it comes to wear and tear on your teeth and gums:
- Smoking. Dentists and hygienists advocate unceasingly about the ill effects of tobacco products on the structures of the mouth. They cause periodontal disease (gum disease), tooth decay, and oral cancer. Cigars can also cause periodontal disease and throat, or pharyngeal, cancer. It is a well-known fact that the smoke from tobacco has a poisons gum tissue, can interfere with blood flow, and badly stains teeth and fouls breath.
- Sugar consumption. Another well-known fact is that having a diet high in sugar contributes significantly to tooth decay and gum problems; sugar is the perfect food for bacteria in the mouth. Bacteria’s acidic waste products etch teeth and negatively affect gums.
- Drinking alcohol. Alcohol consumption often results in a dehydrated mouth, which allows bacteria to run rampant. After a few drinks and a late night snack, bacteria have plenty to feed on and you may not be in the frame of mind to give your teeth a thorough brush or even a rinse before bed. Additionally, research has shown that people who have alcohol addiction issues are less likely to follow the advice of their dentist and hygienist on a consistent basis, and are less likely to see the dentist at proscribed intervals.
- Medication. There are approximately 400 prescribed and over-the-counter medications that list a reduction in saliva as a potential side effect. A dry mouth is more prone to gum disease and tooth decay, as well as bad breath – without a constant flow of saliva to bathe the mouth, bacterial fauna can get out of control.
- Changes in weight. Just like clothing,changes in body weight tend to affect the way dentures fit. Weight gain or loss also affects gum pads that dentures rest on and can cause pressure spots, chafing, or poor adhesion. In order to maintain a healthy weight and to combat tooth decay and gum disease, dentists recommend a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and lean dairy.
Health for Mouth and Body
To maintain your health, both oral and overall, see your dentist regularly in order to be proactive about care and identify and treat any problems early. Your dentist and hygienist will educate you in regard to a proper oral hygiene routine to help eliminate plaque and bacteria and keep your mouth in great shape.